Being relatively new to the tea industry, I’m learning all kinds of things about tea that I never knew before. Prior to starting here at two leaves and a bud, I knew what teas I liked and what I didn’t care for, but I never really concentrated on the individual flavors in my cup. Now that I’m learning more and more about tea, I’m finding that I am recognizing the citrus or honey tones or the floral finishes and appreciating the delicate characteristics in a quality tea. Often, when we are confronted with a certain flavor or scent, it conjures up fond memories of a place or time in our past. For me, the smooth and nutty notes of Gen Mai Cha made me think of an Asian chicken dish I had years ago. Having heard that tea can be used as a tenderizer for meats, I started playing around with a few recipes to see what I could come up with to break up the monotony of grilling the same old boring dishes this summer. The first recipe I tested was for chicken, the second was for pork. The following recipes serve two.
Gen Mai Cha Chicken
1 cup of brewed Green Mai Cha tea from two leaves and a bud
¼ cup of olive oil
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 split chicken breast (about 4 to 6 oz. each), fat trimmed
This dish is relatively simple. Brew a cup of Gen Mai Cha tea, let it steep for three minutes. After steeping, let the tea sit for a while until it reaches room temperature. Once it has significantly cooled, mix the ¼ cup of olive oil with the tea, along with 1 tsp. of dried rosemary. With a sharp knife, lightly score the tops of each of the split chicken breasts before placing in a large plastic bag. After adding the tea mixture to the bag, close the bag and ensure the chicken is completely covered with the marinade, then set it in the refrigerator. Chicken tends to absorb marinade quicker than other meats, so doing this the morning of the planned dinner is plenty of time in advance. Place the marinated meat on a preheated grill that has reached 400 degrees and grill the chicken about 7 minutes on each side. (Obviously, everyone knows their own grills and "hot spots," so you’ll know when your chicken is done!)
The chicken turned out very delicate and retained a slightly nutty flavor from the Gen Mai Cha tea. I served the chicken with a nice blend of wild and brown rice, as I thought the nuttiness of the wild rice would complement the chicken nicely.
When it comes to pork, I love marinades that have a bold, fruity flavor, such a Caribbean or Hawaiian blends. In looking at our tea assortment, I decided to use the Alpine Berry as a pork marinade, combining the finished dish with a delicate berry sauce. I imagine that this recipe would work well for boneless pork chops; however, I opted to use pork tenderloin since that is what I happened to have in the freezer.
Alpine Berry Pork Tenderloin with Berry Sauce
1 cup of brewed Alpine Berry tea from two leaves and a bud
8 oz. pork tenderloin, sliced into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces
2 tbsp blueberry, raspberry, or other berry preserves
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp malt vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5 dashes of hot sauce
After brewing the tea, let the tea sit and cool to room temperature prior to combining with the sliced pork in a large plastic bag for marinating overnight in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to grill the pork, simply pull the pork out of the marinade and place on the preheated grill. The sliced, grilled medallions will cook quickly at a grill temperature of 400 to 425 degrees, so keep an eye on them! Depending on your grill and flame, the pork shouldn’t take more than 7 to 10 minutes on each side.
While the pork is grilling, combine the preserves, ketchup, malt vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once the sauce reaches a boil, simply simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce and thicken. When the pork is finished, simply plate it up and drizzle the berry sauce on top.
I served the pork with a side of roasted potatoes that I prepared by simply dicing up small yellow potatoes, and adding salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil – then wrapping the potatoes in aluminum foil and placing on the grill for about 20 minutes. The pork held a hint of the Alpine Berry flavoring, was quite tender, and was delicious with the berry sauce. Accompanied with an iced Alpine Palmer (½ lemonade, ½ Alpine Berry Iced Tea), this turned out to be a great summer meal!
We’d love to hear if anyone else has had success with cooking with tea and what kind of recipes you’ve come up with?